US government likely to sell many of its real estate properties in India

A world class club with its ultra-modern architecture at Ireo Gurgaon Hills

The US government has hired property consultancy Knight Frank to carry out a valuation and strategic review of all its real estate properties in India, valued at thousands of crores, as a possible precursor to the sale of some assets.

The properties, which house embassies, consulates, offices, residences, schools and libraries at prime locations across Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata, were acquired over the years at low rates prevailing during those days. But their market value has skyrocketed due to the real estate boom of the past half-a-decade.

“The strategic review and valuation is being done to understand the best use of all properties, including selling some of them,” said a person familiar with the development. The US embassy did not respond to an emailed query. A Knight Frank spokesman said the firm did not comment on market speculation.

Read more: The Economic Times

Bring incentives for real estate first: Realtors tell finance minister

Acting on the union finance minister’s advice asking realtors to download unsold stock at discounted prices, Credai, the apex body of real estate developers in the country, has offered him a counter advice; first bring special incentives to boost purchase of houses. The minister, P Chidambaram, had earlier asked chiefs of state government-owned banks to pressurise real estate developers to lower property prices and get the economy moving.

Credai national president Lalit Kumar Jain said, “We are happy that at last the government has realized that real estate kick-starts economic development.” He is also the chairman and managing director of Pune-based Kumar Urban Development Ltd. “We ourselves have asked member developers to start selling even at rock bottom prices as early as three month ago. Nobody would like to block his capital by sitting on unsold stock that too in a very high interest regime. On the one hand, banks are discouraged to lend to real estate developers while on the other cost of funds from non-banking sources is prohibitively high,” he said.

Credai has been lobbying with the government to push for reforms in the real estate sector, which Mr Jain maintains has become a victim of official apathy and indecision. In March this year, 19 state chiefs and 122 city chiefs of Credai met in Pune to protest government apathy, which includes administrative delays, contradictory approval requirements and liquidity crunch due to lack of infrastructure status to real estate.

Read more: The Economic Times

FM for lower real estate prices- a case for a real estate regulator

Finance Minister P Chidambaram has joined the lines of the common man in demanding lower real estate prices. But that’s where the similarity ends – while a common man haggles with the builder, the FM has asked banks to put pressure on real estate developers to lower property prices.

According to a report in The Economic Times, the FM in a meeting with bank chiefs asked them to impress upon builders to complete projects as per schedule and lower prices of apartments that are ready for possession but not getting sold.

The past record of builders as well as their recent comments in media suggest that even the FM, like the common man, may not get what he wants.

While the FM is right is pressuring banks, builders have historically been tough nuts to crack. Though sitting on an inventory of 500,000 flats, they are refusing to bring down prices. Newspapers have quoted various builders as saying cement and steel prices and interest rates are preventing them from reducing prices.

Read more: Business Standard

‘In Gurgaon, 80 construction sites illegally drawing groundwater’

Around 162 borewells have been illegally dug up at 80 construction sites in Gurgaon, the Haryana government submitted in an affidavit before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday. The state law officer also informed the court that the Gurgaon deputy commissioner (DC) has taken “instant” action against the erring builders. Following this, the court ordered that construction on such sites should be immediately stopped and the sites sealed.

Urging the DC to continue with his drive, the court made it clear that the DC will be held responsible if underground water is consumed by builders.

The Haryana government was also taken to task for not spending several crores collected from Gurgaon residents as account of external development charges (EDC).

The government has been asked to explain why the money was not being spent for the development of the area.

Real estate giant DLF has also been asked to explain whether it had dug borewells after taking prior permission from competent authorities.

Read more: The Indian Express

Branded stores push up rents in residential areas

Large residential localities in Bangalore have begun to attract big lifestyle brands and food and beverage (F&B) outlets.

Of late, branded stores have cropped up in residential areas such as Jayanagar, Koramangala, Indiranagar and Malleswaram.

“Due to demand for retail space by lifestyle/fashion retailers, rental values have increased by 26-28 per cent in one year,” said Ram Chandnani, Deputy Managing Director, South India, for CBRE, a real estate services firm.

Established high-street locations in Central Business District (CBD) areas also continued to witness small and mid-size transactions during the first-half of 2012, while retail rental values in CBD and other city areas were constant, with only a marginal increase in a few locations, he said. For instance, apparel brand Planet Fashion Grande has entered the city by leasing 15,000 sq ft of retail space in Indiranagar. Food & beverage brands such as California Pizza Kitchen and Mad Over Donuts have set up shop in Phoenix Mall and Trader Vic’s in the Orion Mall.

Read more: Business Line

Transportation

Metro project for city on track

In a good news for city residents, the much-awaited meeting of the Ludhiana Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is scheduled for tomorrow in Delhi. The LMRC has been waiting for the meeting for long as the final process of the Ludhiana Metro Rail project will fall on track.

During the meeting, the detailed project report (DPR) prepared by DMRC in 2008 and the recently conducted survey of the LMRC will be discussed.

Apart from the LMRC officials, senior officials of the Ludhiana municipal corporation, the state local bodies department and Punjab Infrastructure Development Board will also attend the meeting.

“Presently the Ludhiana Metro Rail project is in its initial stages of planning, but once the meeting is held, the project will fall on track and we expect that the construction work will start soon,” said a senior MC official.

The corridor I is 15. 798 km long and will start from the Ayali Chowk on the Ferozepur Road and will go till the BBMB Power House on Chandigarh Road. It will have a total of 14 stations, including 10 elevated and four underground.

Read more: Tribune India

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